Money On The Sidelines
With the 2014 calendar nearly half way done, and the macro hedge fund community not only underperforming the S&P 500 for the 6th year in a row, but generating a negative return YTD, what is a macro hedge fund universe to do? Why lose all pretense of being sophisticated fundamental trend pickers and do what Bernanke and Yellen have been forcing everyone to do from day one: go all in stocks of course! According to JPM as of this moment there is no difference in the positioning of both traditional long/short hedge funds and macro funds, both of which have increased their equity exposure to the highest since May 2011!
Overnight weakness following The World Bank downgrade, China's flip-flop on CNY and failed auction, Cantor's 'compromise-shattering' loss, appeared to be stabilized by a levitating USDJPY but when the budget deficit hit (as expected) it appears the market was hoping for a bigger deficit (and thus more to monetize and moar QE). Stock are diving lower with Trannies worst along with the Russell 2000 -1%. CNBC is already discussing if this is the pullback to buy for the next leg higher in stocks as money on the sidelines floods in...
Day in, day out, we hear it... It's "the most unloved rally"; Stocks are in "the Rodney Dangerfield rally"; there's still all the "money on the sidelines." Well, it seems, judging by Investors Intelligence surveys of those "not bullish" (bearish or expecting a correction), that investors have never (ever) been more lovingly, respectfully, all-in with this rally... (but that's just the facts speaking - not the asset-gathering, always stay long, commission-snatching soundbites).
With a closing P/E ratio over 17 and a VIX under 11, Deutsche Bank's David Bianco is sticking with his cautious call for the summer. Their preferred measure of equity market emotions is the price-to-earnings ratio divided by the VIX. As of Friday's close, this sentiment measure has never been higher and is in extreme "Mania" phase. Deutsche's advice to all the summertime-'chasers' - "wait for a better entry."
It is not too early to ask how the present US business cycle expansion, already more than five years old, will end. The history of the last great US monetary experiment in “quantitative easing” (QE) from 1934-7 suggests that the end could be violent. Autumn 1937 featured one of the largest New York stock market crashes ever accompanied by the descent of the US economy into the notorious Roosevelt Recession. As we noted previously - it's never different this time...
One of the phrases which we have done our best to bury over the last few years has been the absolutely idiotic statement "money on the sidelines" (and right behind it "more sellers|buyers than buyers|sellers"). Sadly a group of persistent, if clueless bobble-headed automatons still insist on using it. So be it. Today, however, we will focus on yet another absolutely idiotic phrase: "a stock picker's market." Leaving aside the linguistic stupidity of this expert "assessment" (because nothing says fundamental equity analysis like picking non-stocks), the mere facts flat out refute any suggestion that there is any material, or frankly, any dispersion, i.e., the proverbial stockpickeryness. But don't take our word. Here is Goldman's.
Considering the rancorous debate currently going on between Michael Lewis (we will have more to say about it shortly), DirectEdge CEO William O'Brien and IEX employee and latest HFT whistleblower, Brad Katsuyma, on CNBC, we decided that this would be an opportune moment to remind readers how BATS, which currently owns DirectEdge, IPOed, or rather how it failed to IPO, when it crashed and burned in its attempt to go public on March 23, 2012, when a rogue algo destabilized the order book and promptly sent the indicative price from around $16 to 0... in less than a second - perheps the perfect testament to just what HFT really does.... and just so readers have an objective perspective of how "unrigged" the market truly is.
Money on the sidelines? EM fixed? Expectations of a terrible jobs number tapering the taper? One thing we do know for absolute certain - this ramp in stocks has nothing whatsoever to do with fun-durr-mentals... as USDJPY 102 takes the S&P back to unch on the Taper and above its 100DMA.
EM is fixed? Fed will un-Taper? Earnings will recover? Money on the sidelines? We've heard it all this morning as why stocks are recovering modestly... the real fun-durr-mental reason, of course, is in the chart below: behold the US&PJPY or, alternatively, USDSPY.
Folks, I wish I had the answers for you this week.
Wondering why TWTR is down today? Wonder no more... The Wall Street Journal has seen fit to publish the full unadulterated story of how Reuben Kressel, 66, of Rego Park bought (and then stunningly sold) 500 shares of Twitter in just a few weeks for a 76% profit. "I sold out completely," Kressel warns, adding that he "didn't want to take any more chances." Of course, the brokers love it... "in stocks like Twitter, the retail investor is finally starting to come back," Wedbush's director of equity trading gloats, "for the first time in a long time, retail investors are really starting to act differently." Forgive our modest sarcasm and incredulity but when this is an important business news story, believing that we are in anything but a bubble is akin to admitting to be the greater fool.
While the world of mainstream media stock pundits would like investors to believe that there is a wall of money on the sidelines waiting anxiously to go all-in on stocks (bear in mind there's a seller for every buyer and where does the cash on the sidelines go when it is handed over to the seller in return for his stock?), as none other than Charles Schwab notes in this brief Bloomberg TV clip, "investors are less rattled" than most believe, "and have stayed invested" in large part. "There hasn't been a wholesale movement away from stocks," he goes on, busting myths asunder, adding that "investors want to see market-driven conditions, not Fed manipulated ones."
While chart analogs provide optically pleasing (and often far too shockingly correct) indications of the human herd tendencies towards fear and greed, a glance through the headlines and reporting of prior periods can provide just as much of a concerning 'analog' as any chart. In this case, while these 3 pictures can paint a thousand words; a thousand words may also paint the biggest picture of all. It seems, socially and empirically, it is never different this time as these 1936 Wall Street Journal archives read only too well... from devaluations lifting stocks to inflationary side-effects of money flow and from short-covering, money-on-the-sidelines, Jobs, Europe, low-volume ramps, BTFD, and profit-taking, to brokers advising stocks for the long-run before a 40% decline.
Credit markets have been nervous for over a week. Treasury yields have been rising notably. The USD has been pushing higher and with all eyes focused on the momo name du jour (and indices 'near' all-time highs) it seems few have noticed US equities have actually had 3 down days in the last 5 days. Only NASDAQ managed a green close. Of course, this is merely an excuse buy moar with all the money on the sidelines but today's move in Treasuries (and intraday volatility in stocks) suggest some anxiety is back that a flow-slowing Taper is closer on the horizon of hope than many believe. Oil and Gold lost ground on the day - though the latter is the best of the commodities on the week. The USD is back to unchanged on the week (with CAD and EUR weakness in charge). VIX diverged higher into the close with its first up-day in the last six.
Global stock markets are soaring and near record highs. Credit markets are exuberant and near record tight spreads and low yields; and volatility (bond, FX, and stock) has been suppressed to the point of non-existence. So why is it that just 3 months after Nigeria issued debt (in an oversubscribed auction) at a yield below that of Portugal's, Nigerian lender Diamond Bank has suspended the launch of its seven-year $550 million bond? It appears it's the Fed's fault! as the bond's marketers noted "pricing turbulence in the international debt market," in a presentation seen by Reuters on Tuesday. Still think the Fed will ever actually exit?